Even as news broke in India about spyware being used via WhatsApp to target activists, lawyers and activists, the Facebook-owned messaging company sent out a press release announcing a new, unconnected security feature for Android phones. The new feature allows users to lock their WhatsApp using a fingerprint, which it said would provide an additional layer of security for users.
“Earlier this year, we rolled out Touch ID and Face ID for iPhone to provide an extra layer of security for WhatsApp users,” the messaging platform said. “Today we’re introducing similar authentication, allowing you to unlock the app with your fingerprint, on supported Android phones.”
To activate the feature, tap on Settings, go to Account and click on Fingerprint Lock on the Privacy section. Unlock the feature and confirm your fingerprint.
The announcement came on the day when the government has asked Facebook-owned WhatsApp to explain the nature of the privacy breach on its messaging platform that has affected several prominent users in India.
WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users including political dissidents, journalists and government officials during a two-week period in May. NSO has denied the allegations and said it has sold its spyware only to government agencies.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with 400 million users. The platform is globally used by some 1.5 billion people monthly and has often advertised a high level of security, including end-to-end encrypted messages that cannot be deciphered by WhatsApp or other third parties.
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